Summary: The Resurrection of Christ gives us the power to live for and with God, as we believe the truth - I Am Significant in Christ - behind the Resurrection. (Part 3)
In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey tells the following story as he rode the NY subway one Sunday morning:
“People were sitting quietly- some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes close. It was a calm, peaceful scene,” wrote Covey.
“Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.”
Covey continued, “The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.”
Covey goes onto acknowledge his feelings of irritation with the man, the children, and the situation. Finally Covey turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”
(Have you ever been in a situation like this? “What on earth are they thinking about?” “What makes them think they can do that?” “Why doesn’t that parent do something with those kids?”)
Well, Covey’s question brought the man to what he called “a consciousness of the situation.” “Oh, you’re right,” the father replied. “I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
Covey goes on to describe the change that came over him. “Suddenly,” he says, “I saw things differently, and because I saw things differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished… Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely.”
Covey used this story as an illustration of what many people call (and he called) a paradigm shift. Now a paradigm is more than having twenty cents in your pocket.
A paradigm is the way that you and I organize and state what we believe about the others (as Covey did), reality, right and wrong, and… ourselves. I have prayed this week and throughout this series that a Spirit-led paradigm shift will take place in our minds and hearts. Let me tell you why.
About ten years or so ago, I was struggling because my self-image rose and fell on any and every perception of success or failure in just about every area of my life. I remember at one point Susan saying to me something to the effect of “Until you realize who you are in Christ, you are going to continue to be miserable.”
Then she shared with me a book she had heard about called Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson in which he wrote of the importance of understanding who we truly are in Christ. Along then with the Bible, the Lord worked in my life to bring about clarity of purpose and peace and work that has sustained me since that time. I have read more of Anderson’s work and the three key points of this series: I am acceptable in Christ, I am secure in Christ, and I am significant in Christ, are from his writings and work.
That memory was in my thoughts prior to Easter as I contemplated the next series of sermons after Easter. As I prayed and sought the guidance and direction of the Lord, I kept thinking about the struggles many Christians have in believing that they really matter to the Lord and that God can use them no matter who they are. I also had a concern that perhaps we simply treat Easter as event rather than a day of great spiritual significance and power that needs to be part of our daily life – now.
I believe that there needs to be a paradigm shift by the Holy Spirit in our individual hearts and minds as well as in our congregational perspective because the Lord wants us to live in the truth and power of the Resurrection each and every day!
This morning we conclude this series on living in the power and truth of the Resurrection as we examine our main text, Matthew 5:13-14 that focuses on the Resurrection truth that we are significant in Christ. In this passage Jesus gives what has become two important images for Christian ministry and practice - that of salt and light.
We also need to remember that He says these things in the context of the wider message that has traditionally been called the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus lays out what He expects His followers to think and how to live.
He begins chapter 5 with what has been named “The Beatitudes.” In this segment, Jesus shares the characteristics and qualities that God finds favor with the base characteristic being a humility that creates an openness to God.